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Microsoft CLC – Innovation in Ontario – A Shared Services Story

October 20, 2015

CLC Graphic

These are my notes from the Microsoft Connected Learning Conference, held at Sparking Hill Resort October 19-21, 2015.

2015 Connected Learning Conference

Long Live Learning

#MSFTCLC #LongLiveLearning

Shared Technical Services

John Shanks, David Kozera, Ray Bury, ECNO, James Proulx, Catholic DSB of Eastern Ontario; Ron Palisier, Kwartha Pines DSB

Project Overview

  • Genesis 2011 in CDSBEO
  • Struggling with both image size and flexibility
  • 2013 – Concept presented to OASBO
  • Jan 2014 – Formal plan presented to Ministry and Directors

Group of folks got together to see what they could do, together. Real catalyst was to reduce the size of the image. Started with just a very thin image, just the OS, but realized that it made sense to have some software as part of the base image. Ontario education ministry has licensed a lot of software for it’s schools, and everyone was doing their own software load outs. Certainly some challenges in balancing which software to prepare first and how to meet their needs, especially in a BYOD environment.

The Challenge

  • The distribution of a growing list of software applications to an ever increasing number of staff/student devices
  • The ability to leverage student owned devices for instructional use
  • A solution that is scalable for the entire Province
  • A solution that supports smaller boards with less technical expertise

Province required a lot of variety in participation – large, small, urban, rural, francophone, etc.

The Opportunities

  • A solution that offers significant operational efficiencies in administering desktop/laptop computers, freeing up technical service staff to offer more value add support
  • A cloud based service that provides access to all boards

App-V sequenced – Students using Board devices

Azure Remote Desktop – Remote App – Students using their own devices in school, at home, and board devices.

Legal challenges arose, sometimes their local legal department was challenging, and sometimes the ministry, and sometimes the vendor. Currently working directly with the ministry legal department and seems to be working well. Ministry owns the contract and the license, and they have been very helpful in this process. Open sourced software have not been a problem at all.

How Does our Distance Team Work?

  1. Communication (Distance was so large, at least a six hour drive for some folks, so had to have some face to face time, but also plenty of remote meetings / video conferencing, etc.) Does everyone have a very clear vision of where we are going and how we are going to get there?
    1. Regular meetings
    2. Shared information
    3. Strong Documentation (Critical – especially as you have staffing changes, and members join in.) Use a sharepoint site for all documentation, all meetings, all recordings, etc. Everything is there so everyone can be up to speed, or quickly brought up to speed.
  2.  Partnerships
    1. Industry Experts
    2. Provincial Organizations
    3. IT colleagues

Had to figure out a way to determine who was a valid student of a participating board.

Application load times are pretty quick.

Question from the audience about bandwidth utilization. Integrate branch cache servers, so the local schools/boards must have a cache server. Just the first time a package is downloaded, it make take a little longer – but any differentials and hashes are miniscule. Azure has been helpful as they can just turn on additional servers as needed.

Currently up to 350 sequenced applications ready for distribution. Supporting up to about 25,000 desktops.

This is giving a lot of visibility into application usage too. Know which users are using which applications, how much they are being used, etc. A ton of information that they have never had access to before.

Using credential injection into local user profile, so no need to federate details. Could this become a national project?

Conclusion

Using this as a pilot for other shared services opportunities. Currently it is a three year funded pilot project. Two Boards are fully deployed, others are in various stages of deployment. Cost of $0.50 per student from each Board, but Ministry is funding approximately 75% of it. Part of the deliverable is to determine a cost model that can sustain this project. Much work needs to be done in this area still, but excited to be trying it out.

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From → ATLE, GHSD

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